The following is shared with permission from AGua's friend Josh Kearns’ blog “Busy, busy, busy”:I continue to be troubled by what I hear in the media, at conferences, in university lecture halls, etc. with respect to what basically amounts to the promotion of “sustainable growth.”
You can’t have economic growth forever on a finite planet, resource substitution and other measures of technological development notwithstanding.
Here is a must-see for AGua readers: A NYTimes Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman. In this piece, Friedman explores “the parallel between how fossil fuels are being used to power monoculture farms in the Middle West and how fossil fuels are being used to power wars to create monoculture societies in the Middle East. And why both are really unhealthy for their commons.” Friedman makes these connections with help from Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute and long time AGua hero.
"The poisoning caused by artisanal mining from a gold rush killed at least 400 children, yet villagers still say they would rather die of lead poisoning than poverty…Villagers make 10 times as much money mining as they do from farming in an area suffering erratic rainfall because of climate change.”–Simba Tirima, environmental scientist & field operations director in Nigeria for TerraGraphics International Foundation.
Let’s step away from agriculture for a moment to have a look at energy. But really, if you’re doing your homework, you know that industrial agriculture does not solely rely on energy from the sun to power photosynthesis, rather it is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for machinery, fertilizer, biocides, seeds, etc.
Check out my guest posting on the Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) blog: http://lter.kbs.msu.edu/2013/04/gi-normous-global-issues-one-little-person-and-a-community-of-collaboration/
A new article published in the highly respected scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) reports on a “perfect storm” of conditions ripe for microbes to develop antibiotic resistant genes in Chinese hog factory farms (1).
Jim Hansen was one of the first scientists to speak out about climate change and has devoted much energy since to raising awareness. In this quick video from Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth blog for the NY Times, Jim Hansen discusses climate change in terms of “loaded dice”, what is needed from US policy makers, the role of coal, and the importance of developed nations’ responsibility for historical CO2 emissions.
The following are excerpts from an excellent blog post written by Bill Krasean on Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research blog. Read the entire post here.
"If computer models of changing climate are accurate — and they get better all the time — Michigan’s weather in less than a century may be similar to Oklahoma’s today.
As I’ve learned more about industrial agriculture (here I mean post-mechanized tractor, ~1918), I’ve realized how its evolution mirrors that of Henry Ford’s assembly line, which debuted in 1913. Farms got bigger as farmers could plow more land with their John Deere than they ever could with their team of horses. Let’s compare time to plow one acre in 1920:
Click on the photo to go to a photo essay by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It depicts how water-related climate change issues–rising sea level, tidal surges, drought, and river erosion–threaten the livelihood of subsistence farmers in the low-lying delta region of Bangladesh.
Or: “A contentious pipeline (and I don’t mean Keystone XL)”
Or: “Colorado vs. Mississippi tug o’ war over the Missouri”
The slices of the Colorado River pie are getting cut thinner and thinner. With growing populations in southwestern cities and increased needs for irrigation, doling out the dwindling supplies of the Colorado River has reached such a dried up state that government agents are suggesting piping water from the Missouri River 600 miles across Kansas to Denver. The federal Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) will be releasing a report this week proposing a constellation of options for mediating growing concern over water supplies for the ~25 million people who rely on the Colorado River, reports the NYTimes.
“If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.”
Photo from NPR.org. Their caption reads, “Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.”
From NPR: A bizarre exception to EPA regulations allows oil companies to dump their wastewater at the surface rather than reinjecting it into another well, which is the typical method of disposal. Wyoming ranchers argued in the 1970s that banning these oil companies from dumping their wastewater would harm livestock and wildlife that rely on this dirty water for survival (a claim that continues to this day). Most states have enacted and enforce toxic waste disposal laws more strict than the EPA; however the state does not have jurisdiction over the reservation and it is up to the EPA. They interviewed my acquaintance, Dr. Rob Jackson at Duke University, for expert opinion on the science of this issue.
Read or listen to this news story on NPR’s “All Things Considered” here.
R. Glennon WSJ article Oct 2012.
The who, what, when, where and why of agricultural water issues.